Set Up a New PC Part III: Install Software

With the SSD in place, it is time to start installing software and drivers, beginning with Windows 7.

8. Install Windows

Insert the laptop battery, connect the power cord and power on the computer. Since the BIOS was already set to boot from the CD/DVD drive in Step , Windows installation should start automatically. If you forgot to load the installation disk, you can do so now and restart the laptop.
The entire process of installing Windows 7 took me about half an hour (maybe less since I was doing something else at the same time). Near the end I was prompted to activate Windows and I chose the phone option. The automatic voice system guided me through the process: I provided the OEM Windows product key and in return received an activation code. The only problem was that the system couldn’t understand me saying “I’m finished,” and insisted transferring me to a live operator to restart the process. At that point my computer was already showing successful activation so I simply hung up.

Since my laptop was already connected to the internet via ethernet during the activation process, I immediately saw a whole bunches of Windows updates available! I chose to install them all and this took a few restarts to complete. But overall the installation process was smooth and painless.

9. Install drivers

Windows 7 contains native drivers for most PC components and after the updates, my laptop was running perfectly fine including wifi, touchpad and keyboard. The only thing not working well, as indicated in the Device Manager, was the media card reader. I still decided to install Lenovo drivers hoping for a better performance.

Lenovo’s ThinkVantage suite has a program called System Update that can dramatically simplify this process. I went to their website, found the Support -> Drivers and Software section, and put in L412 in the product finder. It then presented a long list of drivers for individual components, sorted by type and operating systems. I downloaded the System Update utility under ThinkVantage Technology. Upon installation, the tool identified several drivers and updates and automatically installed them. This saved me tons of time if I had to identify individual drivers one by one. With BIOS, chipset, bluetooth, camera, card reader, audio, display, mouse, keyboard, networking and USB all having different versions of drivers for different manufacturers, you can tell how much I appreciated the little tool’s help.

I then installed a few other ThinkVantage utilities, such as power management, hard drive protection, and security management.

10. Install software programs

This step varies widely from user to user. For me I only had a few programs I use daily so I loaded them right away.

The first one was Office 2010 Professional. With the setup file and license key in place, the process went smoothly without any hiccups. Since my 240GB SSD isn’t huge compared to traditional HDDs, I did a custom install to save space and didn’t include Outlook or Access, which I barely use. I also didn’t make an effort to acquire the 64-bit Office 2010 and just went with my 32-bit version.

To develop the website I can’t live without Dreamweaver. I installed CS6 x64 and transferred my site configurations over from the old PC. I had a little trouble setting up FTP access to my remote hosting server, but the problem was quickly resolved.
Other programs I installed include Photoshop and McAfee. Chrome was also necessary and it even imported my sync’ed bookmarks automatically. Nice!

My (weird) philosophy all along has been to install as few programs as possible; with a SSD being the only hard drive, I’m going to stick to my principle even more strictly now.

11. Install Python and XLRD

This step obviously doesn’t apply to most users but since it took me some effort to figure out, I’ll document the process here.

I use Python to generate SQL commands for the databases used on SLRD is a python module to handle Excel spreadsheets. On my old PC running Vista X86, I had everything figured out and my scripts worked. Now moving over to X64 Windows 7, who knows what could go wrong. There are many things I love about open source platforms, but version control and documentation isn’t one of them.

After a little debate I decided to stay with 2.7, and the latest version is 2.7.3. I downloaded the self installer for the 64bit version and installed in the default C:\Python27 folder. For the xlrd module, I wanted to try the latest version in hoping for xlsx capabilities. The official source only had the xlrd-0.8.0.tar.gz (md5) available, and it required another freeware 7-Zip to extract and decompress (in two separate steps). The final folder should contain the Setup file.

I used the following two commands in CMD to install xlrd:

cd c:\downloads\xlrd-0.8.0 (or whatever folder the package was extracted to)
c:\python27\python install (or wherever Python was installed)

Everything works perfectly and my old scripts still runs without a problem using Excel 2003 files. I haven’t had a chance to try .xlsx files yet, however.

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